Nothing is ever going to replace YouTube, with its combination of user-generated content and clips from films and TV shows, and even how-to videos. But the question of where to find quality movies and television shows online is still a competitive arena, despite the fact that YouTube now offers higher quality videos when available. The problem with YouTube is professional licensing and access. You can get what’s available, but since there is no financial accountability, YouTube is a precarious enterprise for anything not user-generated.
Hulu.com, however, offers something more. It isn’t about the user so much as about the user experience. The site partners with media giants like GE’s NBC Universal, Time Warner’s Warner Bros., Lionsgate, the NBA, and the National Hockey League. As yet, the holdouts are CBS and Viacom. With such a dynamic partnership already, Hulu can offer users high quality videos for free. Many film clips are available if you know where to look, but most of them are poor quality; Hulu has found a way to make it all easy and pretty to look at.
I went on the site to check out their movie selection. They have movies like Mulholland Drive, Point Break, Sideways, and The Big Lebowski. You just have to sit through a short advertisement and then you can watch the whole film, high quality, entirely free.
There are many more film clips than there are whole movies at the moment, but we’ll have to see how that develops. Some of the film viewings give you the options of commercial breaks or sitting through a trailer for another film. They must have advertising, but they do attempt to make it as painless as possible. To me, it’s a small price to pay for the enjoyment of being able to watch these films any time as opposed to waiting for them to come on cable TV.
As for television, you can see episodes of new shows like 30 Rock, The Office, or old shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Adam 12, and Kojak. It’s truly a marvel and it’s brand spanking new. The great thing about Hulu is that it really doesn’t compete with YouTube at all; both are necessary components of the ever-evolving interactive online experience.
There will always be a need for YouTube because where else could someone become a star in 24 hours defending Britney Spears? Where else can a professional drummer offer up short lessons? YouTube logs life and video events. It always will. But if you are looking for something that is better quality and not copyright infringement, Hulu is your best bet.
The people who really should be worried are the cable TV providers. Some folks will simply opt for on-demand video viewed on their computers rather than having a TV AND a computer. It doesn’t look like the American public is getting ready to step away from their computers any time soon; television on the other hand, could be on the way out. What is not on the way out is advertising. We were able to remove them from our viewing experience with the DVR revolution, but if we stop using the DVR and go for on-demand viewing, we may be willing to accept and therefore absorb more product peddling. You can’t have everything. The best of all possible worlds is upon us. Imagine that.